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It's just so that they receive a file that will be be easier to work with. CP have various options, i.e. full bleed, different print area sizes. If they provide a template it's easier for the end user and easier for the printer to produce a quality product.

If you set up your own dimensions and within their guidelines then that is okay.. the templates are more for the novice.
 

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Besides the guidelines that show you the "safe area" to ensure proper printing the templates are created at 200 dpi. The miniimum dpi recommended by cafe press. Finally, the Tshirt templates have a line of demarcation so you can see where your deisgn will fall on hte bust/chest line.
 
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